The Burbank collection consists primarily of 53 oil paintings and an equal number of
pencil drawings by Elbridge Ayer Burbank of Western landscapes, buildings and individuals
(1890-1949). There is also a small body of correspondence (1942-1947) between Burbank and
his patron, Herb Hamlin.
Elbridge Ayer Burbank (1858-1949), western artist and illustrator, studied in Chicago
(1874) and in Munich (1886-1892). He was a nephew of Edward E. Ayer, first President of
the Field Columbia Museum and collector of a substantial library on Native Americans
which he later donated to the Newberry Library, Chicago. Ayer suggested to Burbank, upon
his return from Europe, that he go West and paint Native Americans. This Burbank did for
nearly fifty years. He had the good fortune to begin work at a time when many of the
famous chiefs were still available to sit for portraits. Burbank also left a considerable
pictorial record of Native American habitations and of Western scenery from a
comparatively early period of American settlement. Herbert Hamlin (1890-1969), owner of
the Pony Express Museum, San Rafael (Calif.) and publisher of the Pony Express Courier,
collected Burbank's papers and pictorial works. He commissioned many of the artist's
works during the final twenty years of the latter's life.